If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! As I started thinking about the way I now view New Years Resolutions and what resolutions are most important to me, I began to formulate a blog post for my end of the year navel gaze with that in mind. It was then that I discovered I’d already written that post for the ERWA blog a couple of years ago, and it still applies. What I’m sharing below are my every-year, every-day resolutions, starting off with the most important one — I WILL BE KIND TO MYSELF! If in doubt, always refer back to number one!
I used to start thinking about all the changes I’d make for the New Year in the middle of November. My New Years Resolutions would be preceded by pages and pages in my journal of navel gazing and reflecting on the year past and on what I saw as my successes and failures before I finally got around to writing a list of resolutions longer than my arm and impossible to remember, let alone implement. Success was spotty at best.
I don’t do resolutions any more because it’s easier not to than it is to fail. Still, it’s impossible not to view the New Year as the ideal time for new beginnings, and the best time to make changes for the good. With that in mind, I’d like to share a very short list of resolutions that I plan to do my best to implement this year and that I would encourage other writers and creative folk to implement as well. I’m not promising success, but I think these resolutions will make my life better on a lot of different levels.
- I WILL BE KIND TO MYSELF! This is first and foremost, and likely most difficult on the list. Most of the creative types I know – writers among the worst – are way harder on ourselves than we would ever be on anyone else, which means, not only do we fail at that massive list of New Years Resolutions, but we thoroughly and completely beat ourselves up about it, just like we thoroughly and completely beat ourselves up about all of the many impossible goals we set for ourselves during the course of the year. I wish I could give advice on how to implement this first and most important resolution, but I fail miserably at it multiple times every year. The best advice is just to keep on trying. I’m trying to teach myself that this is not a resolution to see through March and then forget. I constantly need to make an effort to be kind to myself, to understand that I can choose to be my own worst enemy or my own best friend. I’ll never be able to do enough to satisfy myself when it comes to my writing. It’ll always be a work in progress. That being the case, I have to make being kind to myself a daily resolution – maybe even an hourly resolution, which includes forgiving myself when I fail to meet my own expectation. Each day I’m kind to myself I will consider a huge success worth savoring!
- I WILL DO SOMETHING PHYSICAL. Like all writers, I live in my head. I create whole worlds in my head, I make the characters I create in my head do amazing and sometimes terrifying things, but that means my characters get their exercise while I sit on our arse in front of a computer. This is not a resolution to spend two hours at the gym every day. It’s a walk in the sunshine when that’s all I have time for, a half hour at the gym a couple times a week. Walking instead of driving, gardening. I will breathe deep, stretch, move, sweat. I’m sure I’m not the first writer to discover that the more physical I am, the more creative I am, and the more productive I am, which helps majorly with number 1!
- I WILL READ MORE! It’s another strange paradox, but at least for me, the more time I spend reading, the more I actually manage to write. It isn’t just that I write more, but it’s that time spent in the imaginations of fellow writers stimulates my own imagination, makes me think, makes me imagine. I’ve heard writers say that they’re so afraid they’ll copy someone’s ideas if they read. I find myself much more inclined to think of every book I read as a chance to learn, a chance to become a better writer from example – even in those cases when it’s a bad example. It’s also just a pleasure that feels guilty but isn’t. There are too few of those in life.
- I WILL LOOK UP! Living in isolation is a huge risk for writers. I work at home. I live in worlds I
create, and most of the time, I’m very happy to be in those worlds and often very anxious to go back to them when I’m forced to walk away. But I need to be connected. I need to talk and laugh and share and look around me and observe. Everything inspires. Everything sparks the imagination. A part of what I do is to create something new from what already is. A part of what I do is to see things through different eyes and to translate what I see into ways in which it’s never been translated before.
- I WILL GET IT DOWN! Once I look up, then it’s essential to record what I see, even if it’s just making a mental note. Everything is seed for a story and everything can be seen from multiple angles. The very act of taking a mental note, or even more, of scribbling something down that gets my attention, is a view from a different angle, a possible story waiting to happen.
It’s simple, but it isn’t easy. But simple is always the best start on things worth striving for. Yes, this year’s resolutions are exactly the same as last years, which were exactly the same as the years before, and I’m going to go out on a limb and predict they’ll be exactly the same next year as well.
Wishing you all good things in 2016, the very best of those, I’m hoping you’ll give to yourself and I’ll try to do the same.